Stewart Regan has resigned from his role as chief executive of the Scottish Football Association after eight turbulent years.
The 54-year-old admits change is required and has opted to walk away as he faces another barrage of criticism over his failure to land Michael O’Neill as the new national team boss.
His announcement came on the same day that the SFA board met for a scheduled meeting in which Regan’s recent performance was expected to be discussed.
But he insists he leaves with his head held high.
In a statement confirming his exit, Regan said: “I have devoted my time in Scotland to modernising, protecting, developing and promoting the game, whilst facing into some extremely challenging head winds during my time in the job.
“While it has been tough, I am proud to leave having overseen a period of significant change and substantial growth.
“We are now at another staging point and I recognise that it is now time for further change. I have decided to step aside to allow new leadership to take the organisation forward.”
Regan, the former CEO of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, moved north in 2010 but found himself on the defensive almost immediately.
He was only weeks into the Hampden job when he faced criticism over his handling of a referees’ strike after drafting in foreign officials to break the picket line.
There was more controversy when the governing body’s head of referees Hugh Dallas was forced to resign in the wake of an offensive email scandal.
However, it was Rangers’ descent in liquidation which saw Regan jump from the frying pan into the fire. Both he and his counterpart at the Scottish Premier League Neil Doncaster were roundly castigated after claiming the Scottish game would face “Armageddon” if the Ibrox outfit was not allowed to join the old First Division following their 2012 rebirth.
Those fears did not materialise but Regan continued to be a divisive figure. The decision to press ahead with Project Brave put Regan at odds with several clubs who feared their successful youth academies would be left behind.
And the criticism has continued. Gordon Strachan was axed at the end of October after yet another qualifying campaign ended with Scotland failing to book a place at a major finals.
Regan’s pursuit of Northern Ireland boss O’Neill lasted 102 days but ended with a snub as the former Hibernian and Dundee United winger opted to stay put.
Now 10 days on from that knock-back and with yet more grumbles over end-of-season friendly fixtures away to Peru and Mexico, as well as the failure to land a new sponsor for the national team, Regan has quit.
The SFA did highlight a number of Regan’s achievements in the press release announcing his resignation.
They included “introducing a more transparent and independent disciplinary process, creating a pyramid system, and delivering a new performance strategy”. The association’s finances are also in rude health having recorded record profits last year.
But his departure will be cheered by the Tartan Army. Last week the Daily Record reported 91 percent of fans who responded to its poll wanted him to go.
However SFA president Alan McRae — who has put chief operating officer Andrew McKinlay in interim charge of day-to-day business — said: “I’d like to place on record my thanks and appreciation to Stewart for his commitment to Scottish football.
“He worked tirelessly and has helped drive through a number of improvements to the governance of the game in the country.”